Georgetown’s University Information Services announced the full removal of the HOYAS WiFi network on Wednesday due to its lack of proper security controls, according to Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis. SaxaNet and GuestNet, which are both safer from “compromised computers,” are now the primary WiFi services for students.
“HOYAS was an unsecured wireless network that the whole school used to use,” said Tech Center Special Projects Coordinator Kevin Perlow. “Basically, the biggest issue was that you could intercept wireless traffic using Firesheep or Wireshark and that just isn’t good.” These two “packet-sniffing” programs can capture information, such as logins and passwords.
Davis said the removal is part of the Fast Deployment Wireless project, which replaced over 300 “first-generation wireless radios” in 19 buildings this summer to improve wireless security and performance. SaxaNet encrypts all traffic (meaning it conceals data). GuestNet, while it is unsecure, is not open like HOYAS, which permitted “outbound access,” which allows compromised computers to “attack” others, Davis said.
“UIS recommends avoiding open wireless networks whenever possible,” Davis said. “If you are required to use an open network to connect, make sure that you don’t send any sensitive information over the network unless that site offers HTTP/S (SSL) encryption.”
The change is unrelated to the phishing incident UIS reported in an email Wednesday.
“Phishing attempts are sent from remote locations throughout the world in hopes that people will reveal their personal information,” Davis said. The WiFi service had exactly the same reach as SaxaNet and GuestNet.
Photo from Flickr from Creative Commons user CyberHades